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Ellison Dares HP to Let Its CEO Appear in Court

He figures HP’s going to keep Apotheker out of town and beyond the reach of U.S. subpoenas

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison claims that he and his lawyers can tie HP's new CEO Leo Apotheker to the massive theft of Oracle software perpetrated by SAP's now-defunct third-party maintenance subsidiary TomorrowNow while Apotheker was sales chief and then CEO of SAP.

Apotheker is on Oracle's witness list and Ellison basically dared HP to let him take the stand. He figures HP's going to keep Apotheker out of town and beyond the reach of US subpoenas until the five-week trial, which starts Monday, is over.

Larry said so in a statement he had Oracle's press people issue in his name late Tuesday when the East Coast was on its way to bed.

The statement reads in full:

"A few weeks ago I accused HP's new CEO, Leo Apotheker, of overseeing an industrial espionage scheme centering on the repeated theft of massive amounts of Oracle's software. A major portion of this theft occurred while Mr. Apotheker was CEO of SAP. HP's Chairman, Ray Lane, immediately came to Mr. Apotheker's defense by writing a letter stating, ‘Oracle has been litigating this case for years and has never offered any evidence that Mr. Apotheker was involved.' Well, that's what we are planning to do during the trial that starts next Monday.

"Unless, Mr. Lane and the rest of the HP Board of Directors decide to keep their new CEO far, far away from HP Headquarters until that trial is over. If HP keeps Leo Apotheker far from HP headquarters we cannot subpoena him to testify at that trial.

"I don't think Ray Lane wants to risk Leo Apotheker testifying under oath as to why he allowed the theft of Oracle property to continue for 8 months after he was made sole CEO of SAP. I hope I'm wrong, but my guess is that HP's new Chairman, Mr. Lane, will keep HP's new CEO, Mr. Apotheker, far, far away from the Courthouse until this trial is over."

Larry's timing is precious considering SAP is asking the California trial court for a gag order that the judge, if she wished, could extend to all the players in the case including Larry. The gag motion SAP filed last Friday cites such a case but HP will be happy just to shut down Larry's famous lawyer David Boies from talking to the press while the trial is going on.

SAP has of course already admitted culpability but doesn't want to pay the $1 billion-$2 billion Oracle is demanding in damages, merely "tens of millions." And Larry not only wants the money he wants to destabilize Apotheker and embarrass the HP board, which he attacked as incompetent when it fired CEO Mark Hurd on pretty thin morals charges. He's got a beautiful opportunity to indict Hurd's replacement as a bigger rascal and he's just made it harder for Leo and HP to chicken out.

Larry of course turned around and hired Hurd as president of Oracle. And HP then not only hired the ousted CEO of SAP, Oracle's biggest rival, to replace Hurd, it also picked former Oracle president Ray Lane as its chairman. Lane is still ticked at Ellison for firing him 10 years ago.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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